Marie Treppoz is the founder and CEO of welp.fr, a website that lets you offer or request a helping hand for free. She is also the founder of my-detox.fr, a health and wellness website.
BACKGROUNDWelp.fr was founded in March 2015 by Marie Treppoz and a friend from her previous job at Unibail-Rodamco. Available both online and as an app, Welp allows volunteers to provide a free service by connecting them with someone who needs it. Volunteers or those looking for help simply post an ad on the Welp website, offering or requesting a particular service (visit the elderly, babysitting, afterschool lessons, home repairs etc.). It is an innovative platform that brings people together and gets them to help each other with daily tasks. Welp also partners with companies such as EDF, SFR and Coca-Cola to promote volunteering among their employees in relation to their CSR policy.
When did you decide to become an entrepreneur?Marie Treppoz: After graduating from HEC in 1994, I went to the US to work for the toy company Meccano. I then spent two years working for the export division of the company in France, before working for Danone in marketing. Then, in 2000, I joined the start-up 1001listes—a wedding gift list website. This was my first entrepreneurial experience as there were only three of us on the team at the beginning. I really enjoyed being in the field and managing the day-to-day operational matters of the company. I felt I had more freedom to implement ideas working for a small company like 1001listes. We sold 1001listes.fr to the French TV company TF1 in 2006. I then started my own consulting company, working mainly for the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society. I returned to the corporate sector in 2008 to work for the Unibail-Rodamco Group to lead their group marketing department. In 2013, I wanted to get back into the entrepreneurial scene and into alternative medicine, in particular. However, launching an alternative medicine business is not an easy task in a country like France. I eventually ended up creating my-detox.fr—a website that offers detox retreats. In March 2015, I founded Welp.
Why did you create Welp?MT: In 2013, I turned 40 and I realized I wanted to do something useful with my life. I wanted to create a company with a purpose. I was tired of working for a large corporate group where my daily job was to get people to spend the money they didn’t have on things that they didn’t need in huge shopping malls. From my own experience, I also realized that it is not always easy to volunteer. So, I wanted to create a platform where volunteers would have more opportunities and freedom to serve others.
How has HEC contributed to your success?MT: I really learned a lot from the entrepreneurs’ program I did during my third year at HEC. I had the opportunity to work on real projects for real companies and it taught me how to do fieldwork and build a company from scratch. HEC also helped me network with others and I made a lot of friends there.
“Do not listen to others. They will always tell you it won’t work. Just follow your heart.”
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?MT: Do not listen to others. They will always tell you it won’t work. Just follow your heart. Be prepared to work a lot as an entrepreneur. If you’re a small company, be sure to hire very competent people—you’ll need them if you want to succeed. And never start a company on your own; find a partner.
- 36,000 Welpers (members on the WELP website or application)
- 66% of members are women
- 40% of ads get a response
- 100 ambassadors promoting Welp outside